GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Even with the presidential primary election two days away, there was no exhortation to get to the polls when Mitt Romney addressed Republicans on Sunday night in south-central Pennsylvania.
Those pleas for primary votes ceased when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Mr. Romney's last main challenger, ended his campaign nearly two weeks ago. So Sunday night in Franklin County, Mr. Romney spent his time pressing his case against President Barack Obama on all manner of issues, presenting as evidence of the president's failure everything from the number of Americans on food stamps to the number of ships built each year to the number of new U.S. trade agreements.
"In my view, this is a president who is out of ideas, and he's out of excuses, and in 2012, we've got to make sure we put him out of office," the former massachusetts governor said, to prolonged applause.
If Mr. Romney is finally able to turn his attention beyond the state-by-state nominating contests, several Republicans who braved a rainy night to hear him were happy to look further.
"We've never had a [possible] president-elect in Franklin County," said Elva Pentz, 81, a retired kindergarten teacher from Waynesboro. "It's quite an honor."
Judy Mountain, 61, a registered nurse who lives in Greencastle, said she thought Mr. Romney was wise to spend his time describing his views instead of asking for votes. She, too, looked beyond the elections.
"I think he knows he has it sewed up," she said of the primary. "I think he'll be a good president, I really do."
Still, Mr. Romney will spend the day before the Tuesday elections campaigning across Pennsylvania. He is scheduled to appear this morning with former Gov. Tom Ridge at Consol Energy Research and Development in South Park and in the early afternoon with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who is mentioned as a possible running mate, in Aston, in the southeast part of the state.
In his remarks Sunday night, Mr. Romney cast the presidential election as an opportunity to check the growth of a federal government he described in cancerous terms.
"This president has a road that he's traveling down where government gets larger and larger and metastasizes into every aspect of American life," he said. "A view that somehow government knows better than free people. I disagree entirely."
He promised to cut and cap federal spending and put the country on track to a balanced budget.
After the speech, Gary Freeman, a retired federal worker who drove up from his home in Hagerstown, Md., said he came to strongly support Mr. Romney after considering the other Republican contenders. Mr. Freeman, 67, said he believes the Republican faces a challenging path to victory in November.
"I don't think he can be overconfident," he said. "He needs to continue doing what he did here this evening."
Karen Langley: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-2141.